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A Polymer Analysis Laboratory At Rose Hulman Institute

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.35.1 - 2.35.4



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Jerry A. Caskey

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1526

A Polymer Analysis Laboratory at Rose-Hulman Institute

Jerry A. Caskey, Professor Department of Chemical Engineering Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Abstract The production and processing of materials into finished goods constitutes a large part of our present economy. A significant portion of new products are developed from polymeric materials. The chemical engineering department at Rose-Hulman introduced an elective course in Polymer Engineering some years ago. In keeping with our belief that the student understands and appreciates science and engineering principles best after applying them in a laboratory experience, we have made a laboratory an integral part of the course. Through the National Science Foundation ILI program, two analytical tools have been obtained to allow students to perform compositional analysis and some structural analysis on polymeric materials. These tools are a Fourier Transform Infrared Spectrometer(FTIR) and a Thermal Analyzer. The thermal analysis equipment will perform Differential Scanning Calorimetry(DSC) and Thermogravimetric Analysis(TGA). Several projects have been used in class using plastic components from the automotive industry. Projects are also assigned which require student groups to choose a manufactured object and identify the material(s) used in the object. Each group then writes a report summarizing their opinion of the manufacturers choice of material(s) used and suggests alternate materials. Since there are some 12,000 commercially available plastic materials they soon find almost every part has more than one suitable material and in most cases there is no “single” most appropriate material. Several recent student projects will be presented to illustrate the range of materials studied.

In-Class Demonstrations In order to help the students obtain familiarity with the equipment and analysis procedures, several manufactured parts from the automotive industry are picked as in-class examples. These are highlighted below.

Ford Ranger Door Panels. Shenandoah Plastics in Greencastle, IN has injected molded Ford Ranger door panels for several years. They have provided us with finished and unfinished doors from the 1989-91 model and the 1992-94 model. FTIR, DSC, and TGA analyses are performed each year on the injected molded door panels. The students are asked to identify the materials. Then in class we discuss their findings. The 1989-91 model uses an alloy of polyethylene and polypropylene, commonly referred to as thermoplastic elastomer(TPO). The 1992-94 model door uses an ABS polymer. Several questions are discussed in class. Why change materials? Why was the cheaper TPO replaced by a more expensive ABS? What

Caskey, J. A. (1997, June), A Polymer Analysis Laboratory At Rose Hulman Institute Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6735

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